Monday, January 31, 2011

Ranting, grumble grumble grumble, no photos, written last thursday. . . better post pending.

Right. . . twenty minutes left of work on Thursday, and let me tell you it`s been a humdinger of a week! The third year students at my school are now officially finished with classes until graduation (so that is two classes a week I no longer get to teach), and the second year students have been gone on their school trip since Monday (half of them went to Korea the other half to Tokyo). This all amounts to me only having 4 classes to teach in the span of a week. . . Let me tell you there is an art to looking busy while feeling bored. This is by no means a skill of particular use, or a resume building talent to be honed. It is a reality for ALT`s all across Japan. Some ALT`s (like Ashley and Cat) have schools that actually seem to put quite the amount of work on them, and keep them very busy (I am sure there are others of you out there who are very busy JETs) But there are also many MANY friends who, like me, have maybe one busy day a week. The rest of your time can be spent as you like (within the office or school).

I was told on my first day of work that I can read while at the office. Unfortunately, the book I`ve been reading was enjoyable for the first 100 pages, but since has become quite the battle to get another 100 pages into and I still have 250 to go. . . gggggahhhhhhhhrrrrrr.

So in my days I read (both books and blogs), research fun things to do in Japan, research better ways to grow stuff on my tiny little balcony garden, look up new recipes to cook, read random articles on Wikipedia, and check my e-mail an inordinate number of times. Also go in and out of frustrating slums of researching potential future career options (which keep going back to weird combinations of professional potter, summer camp owner director, and community gardener). Down that path however lies damnation because it ends up snowballing into my brain getting stuck in the rut of feeling . . . undefined in long term goals. So, I try to avoid those days if at all possible. If you`re wondering why I don`t practice my Japanese . . . I do, sometimes. The course books I ordered have proven to me that, as I suspected, I MUST have a tutor, professor, teacher, or some otherwise instructorish person to guide my studies else I am left with virtually no drive to study anything but phrases I frequently hear.

This week has been spent looking forward to the weekend. It`ll be a busy one. We`re kick`n it off right by hosting a dinner party at mine. I used having folks over as an excuse to finally get my self back together and make my apartment clean enough for company. Every night this week I`ve been a whirl in the kitchen. Over 20 some hand rolled tortillas, two jars of pineapple salsa, jumbo vat of red bean and corn salad, and the meats need dry rubs tonight! Love prep work. . . keeps my mind from aforementioned snowballing.

Photos of dinner party will follow

Right! Officially quitting time, and I`m off to start my hike home. The best store to buy big cuts of pork (the kind one needs for making carnitas) is about half way between my apartment and the school, and no where near the train line. . . these boots were made for walking!

More to come!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Right folks! So, all of the new year`s adventuring photos are up, and to some degree described on my flickr page. ( ) Do it, go check them out.

Just a little sample of what awaits at Flickr.

It`s another frosty sunny day in Susaki. I think cold is colder in Japan than I remember cold being in the States. My fingers are quicker to turn that burning redish pink and for the life of me, the tip of my nose is numb most of the day.

I`ve been getting in touch with my inner wanna-be chef (You know? the career goal from way back in the high school dream days.) My mom forwarded me the blog of an ex baby sitter from my childhood, and I must say that Mrs. Heather`s writing, talk of gardening, and push for more more more homemade food has me all sparked up. (check out her page, seriously it`s a great read, ). I have been plundering great recipes from her page for many days now. The pickled onions she recommends are fantastic (the recipe calls for red onions, but they are crazy more expensive for some unknown reason in my supermarket so instead golden onions were used) and then there were the Green Potatoes from Laurel's Kitchen.

Green potatoes and pickled onions

Lastly there was home made tortilla's and persimmon salsa with chicken and peppers! For all you devout followers out there, mexican food is near impossible to find in any form here in Kochi (hell I'm fairly safe saying in Japan). So, discovering a method of making tortillas from scratch was one of the most satisfying achievements imaginable.

Ultimate craving destructor.

Lastly, it's a grand hour and thirteen minutes until I turn 24. One might think that next to Christmas your birthday would be the time when someone working and living abroad would most miss their family and friends. However! I have already been sent this!

And tomorrow I'm off right after work to spend another weekend with the Benson. Promises of post birthday baking (Heather I may have borrowed your chocolate chip whiskey bunt cake recipe), and a gathering of the Kochi Christmas crowd plus frisbee team friends means I've got high hopes for a birthday filled with bliss.

As always more to come!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Christmas Kochi Style

The feast well after is was cooked with dear Saint Col himself.

Prefeast kitchen chaos. Everything turned out perfectly despite semi crowded conditions.

The first real cup of Christmas cheer Kampaied in excellent style.

Photo taken Christmas morning.

To see all the photos with more captions please go to


Monday, January 3, 2011

January 4th WHAT?!

Happy new years oh you readers of mine. Did ya miss me, because I sure as sugar missed you. It`s a cold January mid afternoon, and my finger tips are numbing as I type so I`m going to keep this quick. Christmas here in Japan came and went with a blur. Many celebrations – too many to tell the truth, every organization has a what`s called a bonenkai (end of year party). With the Susaki Broken English Club, Taiko, my school, and my family of friends all in need of substantial celebratory festivities I am finally well and partied out.

Rather than post an incredibly long blog post about all that has happened this holiday season I will be posting several photo journal (can you tell someone recently got a new SLR Nikon toy?). They will be the best of the best of photos from Christmas Feast Kochi, and a three part instillation of Andrew and Ashley`s trip round Japan. There will captions and links to flicker where all of the photos of my holiday season will be eventually up for your public viewing pleasure.

Typically I would be writing an over worded post about all the joys in my life. The illustrious ways the light roles off the mountains in Japan, the deepening bonds with now dear friends (both far flung and more tangible here in Kochi), and the constant adventure of living abroad, but to be honest . . . I want to see if my pictures (once I figure out how to upload them off the new camera) will do the trick. So until then, unquestioning love to everyone back home, and be warned though it will be extremely late there is a holiday themed card/ letter/ flyer thing on its way. Upon returning to my apartment Christmas night I was horrified to see a huge stack all my Christmas cards and letters rubber banded together because I had put them in the wrong sized envelope for international mailings. . . PHOTOS TO COME!